A colorful reading lesson


Maple Lake native Donna (Wurm) Lloyd is passionate about photography. As a teacher for 31 years, including at St. Timothy’s School, she’s also passionate about teaching her kindergarten students how to read.
Now she is combining those two passions into a series of guided reader books, starting with four books featuring photos she has taken of bugs.
“I want to help teachers relate to all kids,” Lloyd said.
Her photography skills have helped to make that possible. After receiving first place in the nature category of Woodbury Magazine’s photo contest in October of 2012, Lloyd decided to use her work in a more creative and productive way.
“That same year, I had a student who was interested in spiders, so I started taking pictures of spiders in the arboretum behind my home,” Lloyd said. “After accumulating a large collection of photos, I decided to create a book for my students.”
She first made copies of her books on a color printer, but she quickly learned she would need to put out a more durable product.
“A little boy in my class used the spider book so much it fell apart by the end of the year,” Lloyd said.
She pitched her idea to a publisher, but ultimately decided against working with a publisher.
“Since I wanted a specific format for my books, I decided to publish it myself,” Lloyd said. “I enlisted the parent of one of my students to become the graphic designer for the book.”
Her first set of books 
was published in March. 
When creating her books, she enjoys every step along the way.
“I have a passion for taking photos, so it is exciting to capture the unique, detailed images that may someday be used in one of my books,” Lloyd said. “I enjoy laying the photos in order to create the book, writing the text so the words flow and using high-frequency words for the book level.
“It is exciting to send the book to the graphic designer and then, when the proof arrives, I enjoy examining it for corrections and edits,” Lloyd continued. “With each step in the process, the book improves, so it is fun to see the growth. Then, the final enjoyment is seeing the finished product and reading it from cover to cover.”
The front cover of each book features a colorful photo. Each book’s back cover features important information.
It identifies high-frequency words, as well as other focus words. A summary explains the content of the book and the lessons it teaches.
For example, the book “Spiders In My Backyard” teaches three sets of opposites: short and long, little and big and over and under.
It poses questions such as, “What spiders were found in the backyard?” and, “Where have you seen spiders?”
Adding questions helps students learn about different topics while learning to read. Lloyd’s first four books focus on science. She’s also planning to release books to help students learn about math, social studies, literacy, art, physical education and health.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.